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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  March 10, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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he said co-location is going to continue. i'm looking to work with the mayor. i think this is a very loud argument. it's a loud argument because we all care about kids. i hope we're able to put the politics behind us and move on. >> new york city public schoolteacher buy wrrian jones,s merriman. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. richard engel life in a few minutes. we have new reporting out of east texas you will not see anywhere else coming up on the show tonight. new news out of florida and michigan, both stories that are likely to have nationwide political consequences. there's a lot to get to this hour. good to be back into a really, really busy news cycle. we're starting the show tonight with an unexpected and still unexplained strange development in the new jersey bridge scandal and chris christie administration and the investigations into that scandal. before today, we've known that the new jersey legislature was
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obviously investigating the bridge scandal. now, theirs is not a criminal investigation. it's the legislature investigating. they do have subpoena power, but they have no ability to themselves, bring criminal charges against anyone if any criminal behavior is uncovered by their inquiry. so that's the state-level investigation by the legislature. before today, we also knew about two federal criminal investigations by the federal prosecutor for the state of new jersey. first, that u.s. attorney, paul fishman, confirmed that he's investigating the bridge scandal, itself, whether any federal laws were violated when access lanes on to the world's busiest bridge were used as a weapon to punish the town of ft. lee, new jersey, for some yet unexplained reason. and there's a second federal criminal investigation confirmed by the same u.s. attorney. and that investigation is into allegations from the mayor of hoboken, new jersey. the hoboken mayor claims she was
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pressured by members of the christie administration, high-ranking members including the lieutenant governor, to approve a private development deal in her town. she says she was threatened that if she didn't approve that private development deal, the city of hoboken would not receive its share of funding for recovery from hurricane sandy. now, the christie administration vigorously denies those claims from the mayor of hoboken, but we know that an investigation is under way. we know that fbi agents and staffers from the federal prosecutors office, from the u.s. attorney and new jersey have been doing interviews and reviews documents and otherwise investigating those explosive allegation about the allocation of funding from recovery of that storm. before today, those were the two federal criminal investigations we knew were under way of the christie administration. the bridge lane shutdown, itself, and the hoboken allegations concerning sandy funding. today, though, number three? this afternoon, late this
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afternoon, the "wall street journal" broke news a third federal criminal inquiry appears to be under way. according to the "journal's" reporting the new federal criminal inquiry was open in a new jurisdiction. the other two federal criminal inquiries has been run out of the office of the u.s. attorney for the state of new jersey, but the that subpoena apparently indicating a new line of inquiry was not issued by the u.s. attorney in new jersey. it was issued by the u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york. the federal prosecutor in manhattan. barara. the "journal" was first to report today, the u.s. attorney in manhattan, his office had sent a subpoena on friday to governor chris christie's top appointee at the port authority. a man who remains at his job as chairman of the port authority, david samson. the "journal" reported and nbc news later confirmed the subpoena for documents from david samson was part of a new federal criminal investigation into potential conflicts of interest between mr. samson's
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private business interests and his actions as chairman of the port authority. it has been extensively reported since the scandal broke open that david samson, a key political ally of chris christie, the chairman of chris christie's transition team, himself is a former attorney general for the state of new jersey. it has been extensively reported since this scandal broke that david samson has cast votes or otherwise taken official action as chairman of the port authority that appear to have benefited his private law firm's clients. and thus indirectly at least benefited his own financial bottom line. so, a second federal prosecutor, this one in new york, opening what appears to be a new inquiry into david systamson and subpoenaing documents from him in the inquiry that was first reported this afternoon. but then, then, within a couple hours of the "wall street journal" posting its story, the story got turned on its head when reporter shawn boburg at
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the "bergen record," reporting they had issued that subpoena on friday then they took it back. today, according to mr. boburg's reporting, they withdrew their subpoena. hmm? issuing the subpoena, then taking it back? hmm? we're going to get more clarity on that with our guest in just a moment. it's been a really strange day of reporting and dramatic developments in this story. while all this stuff was going on with whether or not there's a third inquiry and a new u.s. attorney involved, meanwhile, everybody is prepping for tomorrow which is going to be a really big day in this story. tomorrow, bridget anne kelly, who's seen here today in exclusive nbc news footage, bridget anne kelly who was the deputy chief of staff to chris christie when she sent that e-mail that said "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee," bridget anne kelly who has not been seen and made no public statements other than through her lawyer since the scandal broke, she is expected in person, in court, tomorrow along with governor christie's former campaign manager bill stepien.
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both bill stepien and bridget kelly invoked fifth amendment rights to argue they should not have to hand over documents to the legislature for their investigation. tomorrow, those fifth amendment claims will be tested in court and they'll both be there in person. start time is 10:00 a.m. and that will be fascinating for those two key figures in this scandal. right? it will be fascinate in terms of how bill stepien and bridget kelly make their case. the legal question. the strategic question of whether they really will be able to avoid telling what they know in this scandal. this hearing tomorrow is also going to determine to a significant extent a big, broader question about whether or not the legislature gets to keep doing its job, whether or not that investigative committee in the legislature gets to keep investigating in a way that will keep turning up new stuff about this scandal. honestly, who knows what's going on between the federal prosecutors, all right? apparently jockeying to run their criminal investigations here. we likely will not have the whole story of what's going on
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with the federal prosecutors unless and until there's an indictment unsealed. but the legislature investigating? so far that's how we know everything that we know about this scandal. if tomorrow, the court says that bill stepien and bridget kelly don't have to turn over documents to the legislature, they don't need to cooperate with the investigative committee in the legislature, those subpoenas can't compel them to turn stuff over, seems like that will effectively neuter the legislature's ability to keep investigating. high-stakes stuff. joining us now to sort this out, andrea bernstein, senior editor, investigative journalist for wnyc. >> nice to see you again. >> so let me ask you about this issue of david samson and federal prosecutors. i know you reported for wnyc tonight that essentially the subpoena was first issued by the manhattan u.s. attorney and then was essentially transferred over to new jersey. to the u.s. attorney in new jersey who's handling other
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aspects of that case. is that -- am i saying that right? and what does that mean? >> well, we don't exactly know why the manhattan u.s. attorney issued the subpoena. the port authority offices are in manhattan and new york city, so they would have jurisdiction and that's where the votes happen and that's where samson has his office and the official actions take place. what is clear when all the dots settled, the sungt matter looking into potential conflicts of interest by the chair of the port authority of new york and new jersey is now being investigated and that's a big new chapter because it's a subject area that so far as we know hasn't been under scrutiny before but now is and a potential problem for chris christie who may someday have to defend all of this which is separate from bridge-gate. >> in the hoboken allegations which are also separate from bridge-gate did sort of approach this subject matter. >> right. >> in the sense that the private
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development that the mayor of hoboken says she was asked to favor was a private development being done by david samson's clients. >> right, and that the port authority had funded a study that benefited that developer. when i saw that, i thought, wow, that's odd. and as i began digging into it, i saw that there were many other cases where there were private clients of david samson's law firm, wolf & samson, who somehow benefited from action that he took as the head of the port authority. >> why do you say that chris christie, governor chris christie of new jersey will have to answer for that if those answers in that reporting is borne out in a sense that may invoke federal criminal inquiry? >> well, a couple of reasons. the people who organized the lane closures are no longer work ing working for governor chris christie. david samson is still on the job.
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as recently as a week and a half ago, christie says he strongly and firmly stood behind david samson. this was in the wake of a number of newspaper editorial boards calling on him to resign. he's a very, very close confidant of governor christie's. this is christie saying this even after we and a number of news organizations have reported on these potential conflicts of interest. >> he's also a powerful figure in his own right in new jersey as far as i understand. a former attorney general in new jersey. he has this very connected law firm that's financially done very well particularly under the christie administration as you at wnyc has reported. and the thing that i think hasn't seemed all that understandable for people who are new to this cast of character through this scandal is why governor christie would stand by him even as he was throwing david wildstein and bill baroni and other allies under the bus? >> some reporting we've done suggests there are even some christie advisers that have
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wondered why the governor has been so staunchly beside him. but this is somebody he's known for at least a decade. they were both prosecutors together. governor christie has said they endured death threats together and nothing brings you together like a death threat. david samson is one of the few christie advisers who will travel with him, for example, to meetings of the republican governors association, who will fund raise for him, who's very, very part of this very tight inner circle. not necessarily true of some of these oath other bridge-gate figures. he's been called a father figure to christie. it's hard when somebody is like that to cut them loose. on the other hand in the wake of all these revolutions emerging about did he take official action that benefited private clients? a number of questions have been raised about why the governor is standing beside him so closely. >> and if this federal criminal investigation is now under way and a full-scale way to david samson on those matters, can he
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continue to serve as chairman of the port authority while that investigation is happening? we'll see. andrea bernstein, senior editor for wnyc. your reporting on the samson side of this story in particular has been must-read stuff. >> thank you so much for having me. lots still to come tonight, including richard engel here live. a republican candidate for congress getting trashed by the national republican party. new reporting tonight from texas and from michigan. we have a lot to come togethnig. day with us. weekdays are for rising to the challenge. they're the days to take care of business. when possibilities become reality. with centurylink as your trusted partner, our visionary cloud infrastructure and global broadband network free you to focus on what matters. with custom communications solutions and responsive, dedicated support, we constantly evolve to meet your needs. every day of the week.
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weather, as in snow or rain or sunny skies. weather, the word weather is spelled w-e-a-t-h-e-r. weather. a noun. mostly. but there's a lesser known weather that is spelled without an "a." just w-e-t-h-e-r, and a whether spelled without the "a," that kind of whether is a sheep, specifically a male sheep who has been castrated. sorry. we have this noun, weather with an "a" and another noun, whether without the "a" and without key working body parts. but the castrated sheep weathhe plays a role in a metaphor, because the castrated sheep whether is the whether in the word bellwhether. the act of placing a bell on the neck of a male sheep who had
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that procedure. that sheep, the bell-wearing wether is tasked with leading the flock around. the wether is an older well-trained sheep not prone to run off after the hot new ewe on the sheep. expecting that sheep could be led around wherever the shepherd needed the flock to go and the rest of the flock would follow the bellwether. when his bell rings, the other sheep follow. he's a good boy. that's what the bellwether means. what happens here is likely to happen elsewhere thereafter. so now here's the part about florida. tomorrow, either democrats or republicans are going to be celebrating a special congressional election result as a bellwether depending who likes the result. as surely as mud season follows snow season, this time tomorrow night the winner of tomorrow's election in florida is going to be declaring that all the other races in the country this year
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are going to turn out like florida's did. this is a special election, florida's 13th congressional district. it will fill republican congressman bill young's seat. he held that seat for more than four decades before he passed away last october. the race pits democrat alex sink, who almost beat rick scott to become florida governor in 2010. pits her against a republican candidate named david jolly. he's a lobbyist and former staffer for congressman young. millions of outside dollars have been funneled into this race. at this juncture, polls indicate a super close contest. maybe the democratic candidate is holding on to a narrow lead. here's the really weird thing about how this is going. over the past week, a half dozen republicans, a half dozen national republicans went to the folks at politico.com to essentially throw the republican candidate in tomorrow's race, david jolly, to throw him under a bus that has not yet even arrived. "over the past week a half dozen washington republicans have described jolly's campaign
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against democrat alex sink as a keystone cops operation marked by inept fund-raising, top advisers stationed hundreds of miles away from the district and stat capital. the sources would only speak on a condition of anonymity." not only did they throw their candidate under the bus, they included nice details like this that would seem rather irrelevant to the story but wanted politico to report them. "the poor optics of a just divorced 41-year-old candidate accompanied on the campaign trail by his girlfriend 14 years his junior." republicans are feeding details to the beltway press about their own candidate? dude hasn't even lost yet. the election isn't even until tomorrow. what happens if he wins, right? publicly it's going to be our good friend and strong republican david jolly is a strong example of values, blah, blah, obamacare, whatever. they've been trashing him like this ahead of election night? republicans claim to be working
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around the clock to elect him as their next candidate. no mistaking what has happened in the day before this contest. republicans turned on their own candidate evidently in the expectation that he loses. and why is that? because of the bellwether phenomenon. they want to be able to blame an allegedly totally flawed outlier candidate rather than concede there's anything about this race tomorrow that might be a bellwether for what else is going to happen in the country this year. the tactics of the republicans in this election have been to go all in against obamacare. they have tried to make the entire election in this district a referendum on obamacare. well, if the pro-obamacare candidate wins and their candidate loses, that's going to be a big problem for them in an election year. on the other hand, democrats would be happy to call it a bellwether if it's a referendum on health reform if their candidate wins. knew it all along. just wait until november. this will fail for you
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republicans everywhere. now we wait for the results. this time tomorrow, we'll have results in terms of what happened there, but to see the republicans throwing their own candidate under the bus ahead of people even heading to the polls at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow, shows you that they are very worried about this result and trying to contain its political implications. we shall see. watch this space. salesperson #1: the real deal's the passat tdi clean diesel gets up to 795 highway miles per tank. salesperson #2: actually, we're throwing in a $1,000 fuel reward card. we've never done that. that's why there's never been a better time to buy a passat tdi clean diesel. husband: so it's like two deals in one? avo: during the salesperson #2: first ever exactly. volkswagen tdi clean diesel event, get a great deal on a passat tdi, that gets up to 795 highway miles per tank. and get a $1000 dollar fuel reward card. it's like two deals in one. hurry in and get a $1,000 fuel reward card and 0.9% apr for 60 months on tdi models. [ giggling ] again! again! [ giggles ] again! [ mom ] when we're having this much fun, why quit? and new bounty has no quit in it either. it's 2x more absorbent
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ever wondered where bungee jumping came from? it was not invented by people who made giant bungee cords. nobody came up with the idea of doing this by looking down at a tie-down thing you use to keep your cooler shut when you put it in the back of your truck. having bungee cords wrapped around your ankle while you leap from a sickening height, that idea came from this. >> the tiny south pacific island of pentcost is home to what may be the most dangerous test of faith in the world. every year, village elders design a ritual designed to secure the gods' favor. land diving, young men and boys, some just 5 years old, literally risk their necks. only two fragile vines save them from crashing into the ground.
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it's the ancient precursor of bungee jumping, but here it's considered a sacrifice for the survival of the community. >> those are the brave young men of pentacost, island, located in the nation of vanawatu. out there in the middle of the ocean halfway between hawaii and australia, these guys for centuries have been bungee jumping without bungee cords. appeasing the gods and showing thanks for the year's yam harvest. vanayatu is one of the smallest nations on earth. for all it has to offer in terms of cull cher and fishing and non-bungee cord bungee jumping and a very lush coconut crop, in political terms vanawatu is remarkably unstable. the country went through, for example, four prime ministers just in the first six months of 2011. but one of the ways that tiny fascinating vanatu came up to punch above their weight on the world stage, make the most of the fact they are their own
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country even if they're small, one thing they've come up with is essentially decided to market their diplomatic relations to whoever wants to pay for them. what are the things an actual country can do that nobody else can do is have international relations. sounds dirty and it sometimes is. if you would like to have international relations of some kind with vanatu, open your checkbook and swivel your wrist. they're open to almost anything for a price. for example, the ongoing and very tense standoff between china and taiwan. taiwan in some ways wanting to be an independent nation. china insisting taiwan will never be independent, it will always be part of china. in 2004, vanatu decided they were going to recognize the independent nation of taiwan. opened up diplomatic relations with the capital, it taipei. china, of course, was furious. taiwan reportedly paid vanuatu $30 million for that recognition. and it's no small thing to make
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china, all of places, mad at you. you know what, $30 million is $30 million. if you're the kind of country that cycles through prime ministers every few hours, that gives you a way to unburn your bridges in cases like this. yeah, vanuatu made china mad at them, but when the prime minister who made that decision got thrown out of office, just a month later vanuatu reversed the policy, making up with china, hopefully pocketing the old hard taiwanese cash. whatever you think of a country diplomatically prostituting itself like this, it's one way to make money and opportunities like this araise from time to time. four years after the china/taiwan deal, cha-ching, russia was trying to create two new countries inside the nation of georgia. you'll remember that vladimir putin in 2008 invaded georgia. russia and georgia went to war for about a week. there are pro-russia local governmentses in these two places inside georgia in
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abkhazia and south ossetia in the east. russia decided to recognize each of those places as their own count country. you don't become your own country by saying that you are. ask taiwan. if you want to be your own country, other countries have to see you that way as well. that's why taiwan was will to pay vanuatu and why russia has the same problem when it comes to these two countries it wanted to create inside georgia. russia wanted to create these two countries so russia recognized them. then they said, okay, south ossetia, you recognize abkhazia. abkhazia, you recognize ossetia. somebody call vanuatu. it was 2011 by the time russia was shopping around the world for microcountries it might be able to persuade to recognize the two fake new countries it had invented inside georgia. vanuatu for a while was happy to go along with the russians' plan. we don't know what russia
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offered to pay to them, but in may 2011, vanuatu's foreign minister announced his nation was prepared to recognize the independent nation of abkhazia. a few days later, vanuatu's ambassador to the united nations said, no, that's not true, we don't recognize this abkhazia thing as an independent nation. no, that was a misunderstanding. a few days after that vanuatu's foreign minister insisted in this youtube video, yeah, there had been a misunderstanding but are toldly going to recognize abkhazia. are we going to do that? >> i wish to reaffirm vanuatu's recognition of the republic of abkhazia. vanuatu conducts an open foreign policy and is amongst members of
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the international community in eradicating colonialism from the face of the earth. 7 i wish to take this opportunity to also apologize for miscommunication between our ministry of foreign affairs and the u.n. representation in new york. this was due to my absence in the multilateral mission. >> i'm sorry. i was away. we got our wires crossed. so the foreign minister said, yes, you know, we do recognize that country. then the u.n. ambassador said, no, we don't recognize the country. the foreign minister came back with the youtube clip and said we recognize the country. a few months after that was posted on youtube, the vanuatu government came out and said, no, no, we don't recognize abkhazia. this thing was an absolute mess. after the vanuatu government came out a few months later and said, on second thought, we do recognize abkhazia, an interview was given and said, you know what, i have no idea if we recognize it.
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i have no clue. they made it official, said, we're not recognizing the country that russia was trying to make up inside of georgia. i have no idea if abkhazians have a thing for bungee jumping. to go see where bungee jumping was born. it was a complete mess then it was over. it was confusing while it happened. ultimately it was humiliating for russia. it was humiliating for russia to try and fail to win the affections of this teeny, tiny little nation. russia was more successful with an even teenier nation, second smallest nation on earth called nauru. nauru reportedly got $50 million from rufvush russia in recogniz abkhazia and ossetia. it seems like the country that got the best deal for selling off its diplomatic relations for these little countries that
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russia wanted to create, the country that got the best deal is venezuelvenezuela. reported to have cashed in for a cool $2 billion in russian military aid. think about this from russia's perspective, though. russia had to go all around the world, spend $2 billion-plus, lobbying teeny, tine any kuteen countries. what do they have to show for it after having to do all that? well, this is the list. here are the countries that agree with russia that the two places inside georgia are independent countries. here's a list of countries that disagree. oh, right. the rest of the world. so, yeah, even if the birthplace of bungee jumping had stayed onboard, the last time that russia invaded some place and tried to turn it into new countries, it was just a humiliation for russia. it was hugely embarrassing. and they apparently this year
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will not make that same mistake again. on sunday of this week, russia is having the crimea peninsula in ukraine vote not on becoming an independent nation but on becoming part of russia. if crimea were to vote on becoming an independent nation, then you're back to the vanuatu problem. that would give every other country in the world a chance to express their opinion by whether or not they recognize it as an independent nation, whether or not they send an ambassador. whether they set up embassies, whether they open up trade relations. all of these other things you have to do if another country come into an existence and would be just like what happened in georgia. instead, if russia just takes crimea into its own territory, takes crimea into the existing nation of russia, then russia does something that is arguably even more inflammatory to the international community. just unilaterally annexing new territory. but it's an action that saves them from the vanuatu-style international humiliation they just went through a few years
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ago. i wonder if that means they're learning. joining us now, nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel who has been reporting from ukraine recently richar ly. richard, great to see you. >> i love that you blurred the videos. they dive off the towers naked except for wearing gourds. >> yes. there's gourds, leaf action. >> this is the only time i think there's been any broadcast on any television network where you're talking about vanuatu and abkhazia in the same sentence. >> but it ends up being, i think, part of the calculation that russia must be making here. this referendum, everybody knew there was going to be some sort of referendum staged in crimea in terms of how to try to normalize the russian invasion. did you know or should we have expected it would be to annex them into the russian federation? >> i think you're on to something here. can i take a step back? >> yeah, please. >> people are saying, putin's crazy, not acting rationally,
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he's an insane man who wants to grab power. he's not insane at all. he has done this several times before. in south osettia, in abkhazia. send in penal who are loyal to those places. you have them put facts on the ground. you push out the local forces and then you create little states that are really russian states and try to get the world to recognize it. he's done that successfully in the past. nobody kicked up a fuss when he did it for abkhazia. >> was it particularly successful on the world stage, but got him what he needed to get. >> those territories, we say they're part of georgia. georgian troops cannot go into abkhazia or south ossetia. >> embarrassing in its own terms
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for georgia which is a rival state. >> he's done this in the past and had success. this would be number four doing the exact same model, but this time as you rightly say, they're preparing to go even further. instead of creating some false little state that they'd then have to go shop around the world and get the world's tiny island nations to recognize, tomorrow the duma is voting whether it will accept an outright annexation and that is a much more aggressive step. >> wow. in terms of what is going to happen next, obviously the crimean referendum, there's the vote in the duma then crimean referendum this weekend. there's noise that russia is making, at least looking toward eastern ukraine has well. >> this is what i think you need to understand. so crimea, i hate to say it, is in a bad place right now. it would end up becoming part of russia or at least at its minimum state, it becomes a fake independent state that is really a russian state. maximum, it's part of russia.
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the question is, does putin stop there? does russia stop there? so if you look at a map, this is, obviously, crimea. this area along the russian border is sympathetic to russia, and we have another map that shows how this country voted in previous elections. and in previous elections, candidates that were favorable to russia were more -- no, that's not the map. the other map. one more. that shows -- >> there we go. >> -- the her tan ditage divide. the red area along the line i drew, the part of the country that is poor-russia, sympathetic to russia and voted for pro-russian candidates. if crimea becomes annexed, what happens to the rest? >> yeah. >> there have been noises coming out of the foreign ministry, certainly the russian media that the russian speaking and russian
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sympathetic populations in the green belt are in danger, that they are being harassed, that they're being attacked, that they're being threatened by the yellow part. >> right. >> by the ukrainian nationals. >> is that propaganda or is there evidence? >> i think a lot of it is propaganda. there are fascists and extrem t extremists and there are certain people in ukraine who don't want to see that, you know, crimea or other parts of the country go away, but i think it would be pretty easy to either create a provocation or to take advantage of a provocation and see russia advance further. that's really what i think the united states is trying to do with all the sanctions, with all the next moves. many people i've spoken to think crimea may be a lost cause at this stage and you have to put these sanctions in place and take a, draw a line in the sand so the rest of the country doesn't go. >> but, obviously these places are more diverse than we're showing in a two-color map. there are ukrainian speaking
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oplations inside crimea and eastern ukraine. there's the tatars population. >> let's pull up the map of crimea. you're right, there's not a black or white narrative or in this case yellow and green narrative. are they voting toward russia? many of these people are also ethnic russians and russian speakers. bullet there are these other divisions. crimea in particular has one. crimea has about 2 million people. about 30% of the population are muslim tatars and sympathetic toward the new revolutionary government in kiev. and how is this going to go? >> when they become part of russia and they've thought they are ukrainians. >> what i worry about is
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provocations. you could have some muslim tatars do some kind of attack or have an attack that's blamed on this community then you have a pretext for russia to advance further to take further steps. you could see russian orthodox churches, for example, being attacked in the east because they're so split in that same blue/green map, there is the ukrainian orthodox and russian orthodox church. they don't always see eye to eye. you can see if a couple russian orts dox churches start burning down, that's another provocation to go in. there's a lot of things that could go wrong. if there's bloodshed, the russians might say, you know what, we need two go further, we have no choice. we've annexed the most important bit which is the crimea, but we need to go nufurther in order t protect the russians. >> that's a whole new question. >> then we have a real incident. >> nbc chief foreign correspondent and chief map maker, richard engel. thank you for being here. >> vanuatu. >> vanuatu.
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on tomorrow night's show we're going to be reporting on michigan's new rape insurance bill which is going into effect this week. it is almost unbelievable story. we've got slated for tomorrow night's show, but it is not as unbelievable as our next story
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with an innovative showerhead plus wireless speaker, kohler is the proud sponsor of singing in the shower. ed. last week we brought you a story from the end of these united states. the southernmost part of texas, the rio grande valley, one of the poorest places in the country, where in the last two weeks the only two remaining reproductive health care clinics in the valley closed down, leaving an area the size of connecticut with zero access to abortion. from the rio grande valley if you travel along the gulf coast curve of texas, north and then east, you end up in an equally remote and almost equally poor part of east texas that is the borderlands between texas and rural southwestern louisiana. just west of louisiana's cajun country on the gulf coast you'll find the small city of beaumont. and in that small city of
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beaumont, texas a long-standing reproductive health care clinic there has been providing cancer screenings and contraception and all sorts of reproductive health care, including abortions, for the women of beaumont and the women of east texas and the women of southwest louisiana, who have seen the clinics in their state shut down and who have been making their way across state lines to east texas, to beaumont, to see the doctor there instead. beaumont is a mostly african-american city. it's not a big place. it's not well off. it's got over 20% of the population living under the poverty line. but it's also a place where people come to for services from the whole region. it can make more than six months to get an appointment with the only low-income women's health provider in the area. the whole women's health clinic in beaumont is the only abortion provider for a 260-mile stretch between houston and baton rouge. >> such a small and rural community, and it's so family rooted. you're talking 22% of women who are living in poverty. that means they don't have cars,
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they don't have the finances to make the travel 145 miles one way to houston. many of the women in beaumont have never been -- many of the residents of beaumont have never been out of the city of beaumont, and making a trip to houston for them is a huge deal. >> you serve women in texas? >> actually, in beaumont we serve quite a few women from louisiana because we sit right on the texas-louisiana border. about 30% of our patients come over the louisiana border from lake charles and other small towns there as well. >> you're the only provider between -- >> between houston and baton rouge. so about a 260-mile stretch of highway, we're the only abortion clinic. >> marva sadler. that was the director of the only clinic that provided abortions in beaumont, texas. but her clinic along with the last two in the whole rio grande valley has just been legislated out of existence by texas state government. the new trap regulations for abortion providers that texas republicans passed last year, that law they passed after the marathon filibuster by democratic senator, now candidate for governor webbedy davis, that new law said doctors
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concept provide abortion in texas anymore without having admitting privileges at a local hospital, something it is nearly impossible for doctors to get if they don't already have them. the two clinics in the rio grande valley that had to close last week they had to close because no doctors could get those admitting privileges. but that was just one part of texas's anti-abortion bill, the one that went into effect in november. the clinics are now closing because of it. they essentially have been trying to hold on, trying not to close, hoping for a reprieve from the court for something else to allow them to stay open. those regulations went into effect in november. they're still closing clinics now. another set of regulations from the new law set to go into effect in the next few months. the first set of regulationsize basically credited with shutting down 19 of the state's 32 clinics. this next set of regulations that's due to go into effect in the next few months, it's set to close 13 of the 19 clinics that remain in the state. those new regulations that are set to reduce texas, there are only six clinics for the whole state, where there's one
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reproductive health clinic per every 2.2 million women in the state. those new regulations don't go after doctors directly. they go after the clinics themselves. they basically establish that if you want to provide abortion facilities in texas you have to upgrade your facilities to the standards required for hospitals. multimillion-dollar facility upgrades that aren't required for doctors providing any other kind of outpatient procedures like vasectomies or oral surgery or colonoscopies. but they will be required for doctors who do abortions. nobody is expecting the clinics to be able to do multimillion-dollar makeovers into hospitals in time for the law's deadlines. what everybody's expecting, or what the law is designed to do is that the clinics are going to close down. and so just as the last two abortion clinics in the rio grande valley were forced to close last week, so too now the last abortion clinic in east texas. >> in beaumont and in mccown both, neither of these cities are cities where i'm going to be able to afford to build an
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ambulatory surgical center. and that part of the law is looming. it's not far away. it's just six months away that that's going to go into effect. so i have to be logical. i mean, it's a business decision, and it's also a decision on behalf of my staff. how long am i going to string them along? everybody knows we don't have an ambulatory surgical center here in mccown. we don't have one in beaumont. we have perfectly adequate wonderful doctor's office kind of facilities but we can't afford to build a few million-dollar building in these little towns. >> as texas republicans' cascade of anti-abortion legislation goes into effect, clinics are now closing one after the other, and the last remaining providers are scrambling, some of them trying to find a facility somewhere that meet the new regulations that they might be able to afford to move into. others are trying to raise funds to build new clinics from scratch to hospital standards. that's a process that could take years, even if it's successful. those efforts by necessity will be concentrated in the state's large cities. which means even in the best case scenario for these
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providers the vast rural areas of the state of texas are going to be loest with no access to abortion services whatsoever and no access to lots of other kinds of reproductive health care either. >> unfortunately, we will stop doing -- we will close our doors in beaumont. and it's devastating. we'll see a lot of women hurt. we'll see a lot of women go through a lot of turmoil. we'll see families. we'll just go make or break unfortunately. and it's devastating that we have to walk away. it's been hard. i'm sorry. it's -- it was a pleasure to serve a community who made it very obvious that they needed us and that they appreciated us and that -- the stories of the women coming into that clinic, one thing about beaumont is that they're very talkative and they're very verbal. and so from the moment you make an appointment on the phone you begin to develop a relationship
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with that woman because she tells you her whole life story. so it's hard to walk away from those stories knowing that they won't have anybody. so it's really hard. it's really hard. >> on september 1st the last stage of texas's legislation is going to take effect. it's expected to bring the number of clinics servicing one of the most populous states in the country down to just six. six clinics serving 260,000 square miles and more than 13 million women. as republican-controlled states one by one legislate abortion access out of existence, a new map of the united states is essentially starting to take focus. one where abortion is legal and accessible and another where huge swaths of this country have no access to what on paper are their reproductive rights. when people talk about the whole war on women thing, it is not a beltway construct. it is the lived experience of republican governance in the states right now. if you think texas women, when they're down to six states, are
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going to have escape routes to go to other states, well, if they go east they're going to bobby jindal's louisiana. which as of right now is considering this week, the state legislator considering the same anti-abortion lj slaigs that texas passed last year that's closing down all of texas's clinics. if you think they might escape north to oklahoma, republicans in the legislature there are in the process of finalizing another raft of anti-abortion legislation that is also intended to close clinics there. the escape routes are ending as lock as the escape routes go to other red states. the escape routes are starting to look like mexico and that's it. that does it for us tonight. now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. have a great night. tonight, russia tightens its grip on crimea, and a new prosecutor is focusing on team christie. >> a critical reason for putin's aggression has been president obama's weakness. >> he hasn't got any credibility with our allies. >> we have a weak and

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